Manitoba custom manure applicator strives for efficiency by developing a wider, tow-behind manure
September 23, 2010 by Tony Kryzanowski
With the hog industry struggling financially, custom manure applicator
Redhand Ltd. knew it needed to find ways to operate more efficiently to
manage its own rising costs.
With the hog industry struggling financially, custom manure applicator Redhand Ltd. knew it needed to find ways to operate more efficiently to manage its own rising costs. So the Manitoba-based company designed a new, tow-behind, 64-foot wide manure injection toolbar that is robust and nearly twice as wide as other injection toolbars in their fleet.
|Redhand Ltd. says that despite its 64-foot width, the company's custom manure applicator operates smoothly on cropland and corners with no issues. Submitted photos.|
“Our costs go up every year, but we couldn’t raise our rates because of trouble in the hog industry,” says company co-owner, Scott Rose. “We were running 33-foot injector toolbars before and we just couldn’t get a boom arm long enough without having major structural problems like stress breaks and stress cracks. We just kept beefing up that swing arm, and that made it heavier, which made it more prone to breaking.”
Rose says for the new, wider applicator to be effective, the boom needed to be able to handle the stress of a 64-foot implement. Last spring, Redhand Ltd. injected 40 million gallons of manure with it, and the boom worked beyond their expectations. The applicator moved smoothly as it was towed across cropland and worked equally well with either hog or dairy manure.
“It just makes us that much more efficient to be able to run one machine at 64 feet versus two at 33 feet,” he says. “We didn’t think we could get more efficient two years ago, and now we have dropped a tractor, which is huge.”
By designing a wider, tow-behind toolbar, the company has been able to reduce the size of its equipment fleet, its fuel consumption when applying manure, and the number of its employees. At present, the company has nine employees.
“With other swing-mounted booms on applicators, they are typically mounted on the front of the machine and then pivot on top of that machine out to half the distance of the machine in either direction,” says Rose. “The one we built is tow-behind. So, we can basically build any width now because of our boom design. We were a little bit concerned about what would happen when we did a really hard turn (such as the hose tangling up at the far end of the toolbar) but we didn’t have any issues.” He adds the major difference between this manure applicator and other conventional injection systems is that because it is a tow-behind boom, it is supported by wheels, whereas a free-swinging boom would be mounted at the front of an applicator.
|The tow-behind feature of Redhand Ltd.’s custom manure applicator is what gives the tool its durability. |
The Redhand applicator has three Bambauer manifolds, and each manifold has 13 ports and 39 hoses leading to splitters, resulting in 78 drops leading to the Gentil injection system. Rose says the injection system looks almost like a golf green aerator. A series of knives, each about eight inches long, fracture and make holes in the soil where the manure is applied. Each knife is four inches apart, and the manure is injected approximately four inches into the ground, depending on soil conditions.
A second motivation behind designing this new applicator was to reduce crop stripping, a condition where some areas receive more nutrients than others, which becomes evident from crop growth patterns. This was occurring with some Redhand Ltd. customers, particularly in cases of low gallon applications of about 3,000 gallons per acre and where the liquid manure was of heavier consistency. The company has achieved row spacing of only about six inches with the design of its applicator, which it believes will significantly reduce problems with crop stripping.
Redhand Ltd. is owned by Scott Rose and Trevor Cowieson, with foreman and partner Paul Bell a key member of the team and a major contributor to the toolbar design. Rose, Cowieson and Bell are joint venture partners in another company located in Boissevain, Man., called Triangle Welding Ltd., which actually fabricates the complete applicator. Rose and Cowieson farm southwest of Brandon and operate the custom manure application business as a sideline.
Rose says he and Cowieson were part owners in a hog barn and given the expense of managing the manure in that operation, they decided it was something they wanted to consider doing themselves. They purchased the equipment owned by one of the companies servicing their hog barn eight years ago, starting out with tankers and eventually evolving exclusively into a draghose system about four years ago to address soil compaction issues being experienced by some of their customers. They also discovered that other draghose operators were able to work in wetter ground conditions, so the transition was made.
They are pumping and applying about 150 million gallons of liquid manure per year, almost exclusively for the hog industry. The majority of their business is conducted in spring and fall, with some custom application on pastures in summer, in an area largely within southern Manitoba.
Because their tow-behind applicator has proven itself in a commercial setting, Triangle Welding has started fabricating a second machine for Redhand through a relationship it has developed with equipment fabricator Degelman Industries, based in Regina, Sask.
Rose says Degelman Industries was another key player in the design of the applicator. They modified the frame on a land roller implement to Redhand’s specifications, which was incorporated into the applicator’s overall design.
“One of the unique features of the Degelman machine is that it folds back and trails behind you and keeps everything in exactly the same position as it is in working field position,” says Rose. “It’s not a fold up machine.” The applicator is just over 13 feet wide for road transport and follows in the tracks of the tractor when turning, which enhances its maneuverability.
“We tow the applicator down the road at 24 miles per hour, no problem,” Rose adds.
In addition to the new, custom-built toolbar, their fleet consists of Ford New Holland tractors purchased from Mazer Implements in Brandon. Up until now, they’ve been operating three four-wheel-drive tractors in the 375-horsepower range to pull their 33-foot manure injection toolbars.
“That’s one of the efficiencies we tried to build into the design of our new toolbar,” says Rose. With the design of their new 64 foot tool bar, they now only need two 375-horsepower four-wheel-drive tractors, complemented by six front-wheel assist tractors for various operations such as manure pit agitation, equipment towing and hose management.
Complementing their draghose system are 52-foot Houle pit agitators and pumps, booster pumps and three miles of eight-inch hose for direct delivery of the manure to a pump in the field, which is connected to the manure applicator hitched to the tractor. The hose from the in-field pump to the applicator reduces from eight inches to six inches to increase the flow rate. Rose says they are able to pump at a rate of about 2,200 gallons per minute, even with three eight-inch and three six-inch lengths of draghose from the field pump to the manure applicator. The objective, he says, is to achieve as much flow rate as possible, as the speed of the tractor and the application rate is determined by the flow rate. An eight-inch Krohne flow meter is located on the implement boom with controls in the tractor cab. Field tractors are equipped with GPS and auto-steer.
Rose says in addition to using the wider applicator themselves, they plan to fabricate the unit through Triangle Welding and market the product to other custom manure applicators in conjunction with Degelman Industries. He says making the transition to this custom injection unit would be relatively simple for custom applicators already equipped with eight-inch hoses. Application is at a slower speed, as the wider the injector, the slower the speed to apply the required gallons per acre. Although the application speed is slower, more volume is applied per pass and with a wider implement working at a slower pace, there is also less stress on equipment and operators.